Prayer exercises for a season of discernment and renewal

Week Two|Tuesday

In this talk Simon Sinek explains why it is important to know why we do what we do before we decide what or how we will do it. Over the next 24 hours prayerfully pay attention to what you are busy with and ask God to help you to clarify the why.

As insights come to you record them in your journal.

Week Two|Monday

Watch this video of Fr.James Martin, S.J. describing prayerful scripture reading.

Read Matthew 9:35-38

The context of the text is the very heart of Jesus’ public ministry: seeing brokenness, making it whole, and commissioning the disciples to do the same.

Read this passage prayerfully and meditate on the following questions:

  • What does the text say?
  • What does the text say to me?
  • What do I want to say to God about the text?
  • What difference will this text make in my life?

Journal about your immediate reactions to the text, as well as how this text relates to the current chapter of your faith journey.

Week One|Friday

We continue down this path. One foot in front of the other.

As we close out these weekdays, spend several minutes reflecting on each these questions one at a time. If you are meeting with your household, share your thoughts with one another.

This week we have reflected on discernment. How would you define discernment?

 

 

What have Paul and the monks from North Africa taught you about discernment?

 

 
What does Paul’s call to Macedonia in Acts 16 teach us about new chapters in the Kingdom of God?

 

 
How do these reflections this week relate to the current chapter of your faith journey?

 

 
How does the story of Paul’s call to Macedonia speak to you about innovation?

 

 

How did it speak to you about a church’s calling?

 

 

Take plenty of time to journal about these questions and any thoughts that are bubbling up from this weeks readings and prayers. Tomorrow rest. Sunday worship. Be at peace.

Week One|Thursday

After Paul was prevented from entering Bithynia, we are told in Acts 16:9 that, “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” After this Paul decided he should go and preach in Macedonia instead of Bithynia. Consider each of these questions for several minutes before moving on to the next. Discuss your feelings with your family members.

How do you think Paul felt after awakening with a fresh vision?

 

 

How has God given you new visions and direction when your old plans did not work out?

 

 

Where are places you sense God is already at work giving our church a fresh vision?

 

 

Spend a few minutes capturing your thoughts and feelings in your journal.

Week One|Wednesday

In Acts 16:7-8 we read, “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Take time to pray about each of these questions individually. If you are with your household, discuss each question after a period of silent prayer.

How do you believe the Spirit of Jesus kept Paul and his companions from entering Bithyhia?

 

 

How do you think Paul felt when he was not able to finish his well-intended plans?

 

 

Has the Spirit of Jesus ever kept you from doing something you believed at the time was right? How?

 

 

Has the Spirit of Jesus ever kept our church from doing what we believed at the time as right? How?

 

 

Take a few minute to journal about what you are hearing. Then rest for a moment in gratitude to God.

Week One|Tuesday

The French film Of Gods and Men (2010) was based on the real events in the life of  Trappist monastery in Algeria in 1995 and 1996. The film depicts the difficult decisions that the Christian monks had to make during the Algerian Civil War. As violence and extremism increased the monks were forced to choose between leaving Algeria for safety or staying among the people they loved and had been called to serve. The decision was complex. They had different opinions. How would they find peace and act in unity.

Watch this clip from the film:

To decide together what God wanted them to do, the monks first had to recognize and let go of their own agendas, desires, biases, and prejudices. This could not happen immediately. The had to take time to pray and examine themselves before they could come back together and move forward in unity. (You can watch the movie to see how it turned out.)

What are the biases and agendas that prevent you from hearing what God wants for this church?

Spend five minutes in siting or walking in silence then journal about you thoughts. Share some of your thoughts among your family members.

Week One|Monday

This coming Sunday we will be discussing discernment. In Cooperative Baptist Fellowship circles discernment is often described as listening to the God that is present among us. How do we listen to God? Over the next several days you will have the opportunity to reflect on how you believe you hear from God and how you make decisions.

Set aside 15 minutes alone or share this time as a family devotional.

Read Acts 16:4-10.

The context of the scripture is Paul and his companions setting out to fulfill the decision made by the church leaders at the Jerusalem council to return to established churches for encouragement.

As you read the passage listen and focus on a word or phrase that the Holy Spirit brings to you. Repeat that word or phrase in your mind and heart. Reflect upon it.

 

Read the passage again and focus on a truth that the Holy Spirit might be bringing to mind around your word or phrase. Journal about it.

 

Be still. Rest. Feel God’s presence as you listen to the Scripture again.

 

If you are with you family, each of you share some of what you reflected on.

A time to awaken our souls to the dreams of God

Every once in a while we have to stop and take a deep breath. Life gets filled with a lot of busyness. Other people’s goals and agendas crowd in on us and begin to set our direction. We become distracted and lose sight of where God is calling us.

Outside of our pride and preferences there is the perfect will of God. This Creator God breathed life into us and has uniquely gifted us with talent and passion. These good gifts are given for service to a hurting world. Awake is a sacred season of renewal and discernment, a time for fresh vision, for each of us and for our church together. Each week day we will individually reflect through prayer exercises and journaling. On Saturday I invite you to just rest in God’s presence. On Sundays we will share what we are hearing, share in group activities, brainstorm plans for the future, and worship. Join me in awakening to a new dream, God’s dream for us and our community.

Prayer exercises begin here on the morning of Monday, August 17, 2015.